This one probably doesn’t need any introduction, as it is run by one of the biggest in the web business. The maps are getting better too for France, in any case. By better I mean more detailed resolution and clearer. There is also whole host of other information to be had from this site, including route planning, local amenities etc.
I’d strongly recommend that anyone going to France checks out their chosen venue prior to going and gets its GPS position and those of the local supermarket and restaurants for example.
The aerial maps can give you a good idea of the general lay out of the lake, the shape, size and orientation. You can find where north is so on arrival if you have previously checked the prevailing winds you can take a more educated guess as to where the carp may be.
Some of the areas are not very well covered and the photos are of poor quality or are quite out dated.
A slightly more interesting site for me is a French one called Geoportail.fr
It is run by the French map company IGN a French equivalent of Ordinance survey. Ok its in French but it is easy to understand as most of what you want is represented by a symbol. It only covers with France any detail but the quality of the aerial shots is often better than Google Earth. The coolest function is the 3D option. Click on that and you get the possibility to fly around your venue, looking at it for all angles. I was fascinated by this for hours.
Another nice little feature is the tool for measuring the area of something, in our case a lake. You simply click on the tool symbol, that you have a outline you can fit around the lake. In a box on the right you get the surface area given in Square metres (1000 M2=1 hectare & 1 hectare = 2.45 acres). It is simple to convert the result to acres. So if you are going to a venue and want to know how big it is really give this a go. Ok it won’t be 100% accurate, as you have overhanging trees and the possibility of lakes being extended or filled in inpart.. But you’ll have an idea and won’t turn up at a 1 acre pond, when you wanted a 4 acre lake.
Anyway check out these sites you might find them useful.